Kurt Helin

CHARLOTTE, NC - APRIL 23:  Owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan, reacts on the sidelines against the Miami Heat during game three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 23, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Jordan reiterates Hornets opposed to discrimination

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Michael Jordan reiterated that the Charlotte Hornets are opposed to House Bill 2, which was recently passed in North Carolina and could prevent the NBA All-Star Game from coming to Charlotte.

Jordan said in a statement Tuesday to the Charlotte Observer that the Hornets “are opposed to discrimination in any form, and we have always sought to provide an inclusive environment.”

Some consider the law discriminatory toward the LGBT community.

“As has been the case since the building opened, we will continue to ensure that all fans, players and employees feel welcome while at work or attending NBA games and events at Time Warner Cable Arena,” Jordan said in the statement.

Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA believes a change in the law is necessary to bring All-Star weekend to Charlotte next February.

Raptors’ Norman Powell ties game in fourth with steal, Superman slam

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That is how you fire up a crowd.

Indiana had seemed in control of this game, leading by 17 at one point, until a 21-2 run by Toronto to open the fourth quarter made it a game — one the Raptors won. Barely.

The highlight of that run may have been the steal and slam by Norman Powell, the rookie out of UCLA, who has stepped up and played well for the Raptors the second half of the season and into the playoffs. That is an impressive dunk.

Hawks find shooting touch midway through Game 5, Celtics never do; Atlanta takes 3-2 series lead

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The first quarter of this crucial Game 5 was not video that will be saved by the Hall of Fame — Boston was clearly the better team, and they shot 31.8 percent. After 12 minutes it was 20-15 Boston over Atlanta. Playoff basketball, we love it!

The rest of the game was not a whole lot better for Boston (40 percent shooting), however, the Hawks found their groove, shooting nearly 50 percent and hitting 13 three pointers (by seven different players) the rest of the way. That has always been the key to this series — Boston is daring some Hawks to shoot, and when their attack is balanced and those shots fall at even a decent result they win.

The end result was an easy 110-85 win for the Hawks, which gives Atlanta a 3-2 series lead heading to Boston for Game 6 Thursday.

Sorry Celtics fans, but from here on out the odds favor Atlanta. Heavily. From our own Dan Feldman:

Add to that Isaiah Thomas left Game 5 with a mild sprain of his left ankle. He almost certainly will play Thursday night, but if he’s not 100 percent that is one more thing tilting the scales toward the Hawks — Boston needs him to be fantastic to win. The Hawks were already throwing everything they had defensively at taking the ball out of Thomas’ hands and collapsing on his drives.  It worked Tuesday, he had 7 points on 3-of-12 shooting on the night.

This game was close for the first 18 minutes but the Hawks started to take control with a 26-6 run in the second quarter that had them up eight points at the half. Then midway through the third the Hawks went on a 20-2 run, part of a 42-point quarter for Atlanta, which made the rest of the game moot.

Mike Scott led the way with 17 points for Atlanta (he played with Millsap a fair amount during the season, and that pairing was dynamite in this game), while Jeff Teague and Kent Bazemore each had 16 for Atlanta. Evan Turner was high scorer on the Celtics with 15.

Brad Stevens would like to flush and forget the sloppy third quarter by the Celtics. Can’t blame him. But the Hawks All-Stars struggled in this one (Al Horford had zero first half points) and if they start to find a groove in Game 6 the Boston players can book their flights to Cancun because it will be over.

 

Chandler Parsons on Dwight Howard to Mavericks idea: “Why not come here?”

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Chandler Parsons went the full John Calipari in recruiting Dwight Howard to Houston a few years back. It worked. Well, the recruiting part worked, the fit with Howard on the Rockets has been a mess. But Parsons helped land the big fish.

Will he do that again trying to lure Dwight Howard to Dallas this summer?

Maybe. There’s a lot of questions here — including will free agent to be Parsons stay in Dallas himself — but he said in his exit interview it was possible. Here is the quote, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“I think he can still dominate the game. I think he can still be a great player in this league. And I think he’s going to leave Houston, so why not come here?”

While critics on Twitter shred Howard, he still has value on the court. Howard averaged  13.7 points and 11.8 rebounds a game this season, shooting 62 percent, and he has been the only Rocket playing defense for stretches of the season.

As always, this question ultimately comes down to money. And years.

Howard and his agent are reportedly letting it be known he wants max money (or close to it), which under the spiked salary cap this season will be in the $30 million range. That reportedly has Mark Cuban and the Mavericks saying “too rich for my blood” and staying away.

More interesting than the amount may be the years — how long will teams be willing to be committed to Howard, with his history of back issues (not to mention franchise culture clashes his last couple stops)? Will a team commit to four years but at a lower per-year sum? Three years? Two?

I could see something in the two-years, $40 million range, but maybe a GM who strikes out elsewhere comes in over the top.

What Howard can ultimately get is one of the most interesting questions of the off-season. In last year’s market Howard may have struggled to find anything near what he expected, but this year in a market where two-thirds of the teams will have space for a max salary and it’s a thin elite free agent class? It’s unpredictable.

And Dallas is not out of the question.

Report: Lakers’ priority in new coach is free agent recruiter

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak speaks to reporters at team headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., Friday, April 15, 2016. With Kobe Bryant's $25 million salary, ravenous shot selection and dominant personality gone from the basketball team after 20 years, Kupchak says he will meet with head coach Byron Scott and owner Jim Buss in a few days to discuss their options for the Lakers, which finished with the NBA's second-worst record at 17-65 in Bryant's farewell season. (AP Photo/Greg Beacham)
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Byron Scott’s job the past two seasons was to put Kobe Bryant in the spotlight and help guide his career to as graceful an ending as possible. He was there to help sell NBA history and nostalgia, then after that try to develop young players and win a few games.

Lakers management — specifically executive vice president of basketball operations Jim Buss and GM Mitch Kupchak — decided Scott did not have the skillset they wanted to move the franchise into its next phase.

What is that skillset? Recruiter, according to a report by Sean Deveney in the Sporting News.

The Lakers are looking for a coach. But more than Xs and Os, more than establishing a style of play and seeking a developer of young players, the Lakers are looking for a new, “recruiter-in-chief,” as one source said…

“That appears to be the No. 1 priority,” a league source told Sporting News. “It’s not just finding a guy to work with what’s on the roster. They need a coach who can pitch players.”

That’s one reason Connecticut coach Kevin Ollie has become an especially intriguing candidate. Ollie played with 11 different NBA teams in his 13-year career, and developed a reputation for his knowledge of the game and his likeability as a teammate and mentor for younger players. Of course, Ollie’s last NBA stop was Oklahoma City, where he was a teammate to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

If true, this fits with the narrative that the Lakers are not looking for a multi-year, patient rebuilding effort. They want to bring in talent that can win sooner rather than later to go with the young core of D'Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance.

It also begs a question: Why did the Lakers wait so long to let Scott go and start the coaching search process?

By the time they did, the two biggest name and best free agent recruiting coaches on the market — both of whom had some interest in the Lakers’ job. In Brooks case, that interest was mutual. But by the time Scott was let go Thibodeau had all the power in Minnesota and Brooks had signed to coach John Wall in Washington.

The guy at the top of the list now for the Lakers is Luke Walton. Is he a recruiter? Ettore Messina of the Spurs?

This coaching hire is important for the Lakers after a series of misfires — Mike Brown, Mike D’Antoni, Scott. The Lakers need a clear vision of what they want in a coach and what direction they want him to take the team. It’s hard from the outside right now to see where that exists.